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Switching your hosting provider without suffering downtime

Migrating your web site without suffering any down time

Ah, what to do, to switch your web hosting provider; below are 10 easy and straightforward steps to reduce the chance of your site going down whilst you transfer over to a new hosting provider.

Well before we start, remember however upset you may be with your existing hosting provider, don’t cancel your old hosting provider until you finished transferring — i.e. the very last thing you do!

Set up a new web hosting account

This is the first thing that you should do, so find a hosting provider you are happy with, and sign up a new web hosting package that you are happy with, and that is offering the same set of features as your previous hosting provider to mitigate any future problems. Remember don’t cancel your old account yet — that is critical, that’s why we’re repeating it! Bare in mind that you should choose exactly a hosting package with exactly the same features.

Download/ Backup your entire website

Get the latest copy of your web site by either downloading the content of your entire website using a free FTP program such as FileZilla. If your are struggling with FTP programs and have paid for a control panel, than you can probably backup your site using Cpanel, or Plesk.

Don’t forget to also export/ download the database or databases that you are using. Remember to maintain naming conventions otherwise you might create some problems later on.

Again, hold you finger off of the trigger, I know your itchy to cancel, but again hold off until the very end.

Upload your files onto the new account

Upload the files onto your new account making sure that you import the database and use the same naming convention as before using the new hosts FTP or control panel.

Setup your email accounts

To avoid losing any email when you change domain servers, or for emails to go down, then it is important to replicate all your old email accounts from your previous hosting providers that you were using. It is probably a useful exercise to have a bit of a spring clean whilst your at it, but in short make sure you have re created all the email accounts that are in use. If you are using Plesk, try using Plesk’s inbuilt mail feature to make your life easier.

Check to make sure your site is fully functional

At this stage it is best to now check to see everything is working, make sure that you re-chmod your folders if you are running scripts and need to do so, and see that your site is fully functional. If you are using Plesk, utilize the site preview function to fully test out the site, making sure all your links, and pages work.

Changing your DNS (Domain Name Server) records

Once you are happy go to the control panel of the site where you registered your domain name and change your domain names name server by re pointing the A records of your domain.

If you are luck enough to be using Plesk as your control panel, then this will be even more straightforward as Plesk’s inbuilt control function should prove very useful.

Within 24 to 72 hours your site should propagate to its new IP address, check your site using nominet, or whois to see your current name server.

The very last thing; Cancelling your old hosting provider

Now, just before you do finally pull the trigger and cancel your old hosting provider, it is wise to check one final time and make sure that the propagation is complete and that your site is resolving to the new IP address. Once this is done, you can now finally cancel your old hosting provider.

A Few final bits of advice

It is best at all times to have a backup of your site, just in case something happens to your site, it is a good habit to get into and provides great peace of mind!

If at any stage you are stuck, it is always worth asking your new hosting provider for some help, after all they are about to get your business, so they should have no problem in helping you!


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